Two natural amphitheatres entirely carved out of the rock: the ‘Sasso Barisano’, to the north-west, and the ‘Sasso Caveoso’, to the south. The ‘Civita’ district, which is the oldest inhabited group of buildings, dominates on the ‘Sassi di Matera’, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

Narrow lanes, alleys and stairways winding through the cave districts, arches and galleries, large terraces, bell towers and rock churches form the ancient inhabited centre of Matera, the 2019 European Capital of Culture, also known as ‘Città dei Sassi’ (City of Stone).

The Sassi originated from small inhabited settlements that developed around several places of worship, beyond the boundaries of the ancient defensive walls of the Civita, which is the oldest institutional, religious and commercial district.   The Civita divides the two Sassi areas: the Sasso Caveoso, mostly made up of cave-houses, and the Sasso Barisano, which is largely formed by traditional houses, built using more complex building techniques.

During the day, the dazzle of the sun on the white rock will amaze you; at night, when the moonlight shines on the Sassi, you will experience the unique feeling of being within a huge crib, dotted with hundreds of small lights.  The Sassi are provided with a water system that collects both rainwater and spring waters; in the past, it was made up of a network of channels and cisterns, able to bring water both to homes and surrounding areas.

Wander around this unique townscape, in the early afternoon, and hear the muffled echo of people’s voices, the ringing bells of the numerous churches that surround the Sassi, as if they were suspended in time.   This is the feeling you will experience when looking at the timeless beauty of the Sassi and the Historical Natural Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, which is found on the opposite side of the plateau.  Matera offers some unique scenery, an emotional and cultural landscape with multiple levels built over time. Stunning cave-dwellings, dug out of the rock, are surrounded by more than 150 rock churches; alleys and narrow streets wind their way through elegant buildings and houses, making the city a unique destination of tourists from every part of the world.